Full Details: New No-Show Fees From Asiana & Korean Air

Filed Under: Asiana, Korean Air

A couple of days ago I wrote about an incident that occurred on a Korean Air flight from Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon over the weekend. Long story short, a K-pop band was flying Korean Air, and some crazed fans decided to book refundable tickets on the flight in first and business class so that they could swarm their idols during boarding.

After a while they calmed down, at which point they requested to get off the plane, and they demanded a refund for their tickets. They had booked refundable tickets, and it’s clear that they had no intent of actually flying. Because of this, all passengers had to deplane and go through security again.

Yesterday Korean Air announced that they’d be increasing refund fees on refundable tickets as a result of this incident. While an amount was given, the exact details of how they’d raise fees wasn’t disclosed. We now have that info, and it seems like the original report wasn’t completely accurate.

Korean Air’s new no-show penalty

As of January 1, 2019, Korean Air will increase their no-show penalty by $200. This will apply to passengers who cancel after entering the departures area. I’m not sure how exactly they’d determine that in all cities, though the terms also state that this applies to passengers who just don’t show up for their flights, and passengers who do not board after completion of the check-in process.

The additional fees will be up to USD 200, CAD 270, GBP 160. Here’s a chart showing the new fees:

Asiana’s new no-show penalty

It looks like Asiana will be matching Korean Air’s new policy

As of January 10, 2019, Asiana will increase their no-show penalty. This will apply to passengers who don’t board their flight after checking in. The fee in those cases will increase from $100 to $300.

Bottom line

What’s interesting here is how airlines are using check-in status and having entered the departures area as a metric for determining the fee you’ll pay. I get what they’re going for, but:

  • A lot of people check-in online 24 hours before departure and may still have to cancel
  • You can still cancel your online check-in (at least on most airlines), so if you do that, would it be subject to these new fees or not?
  • How will Korean Air determine if you’ve entered the departures area? That’s easy to do at some airports, but tougher at others

(Tip of the hat to @ITSmartTours)

  1. I still don’t understand why they don’t do this instead for once scanned in at the boarding gate. This would solve the issue which was the impetus for the policy.

  2. @Yosef_S, I agree. Would have thought this was the simplest way. Once you’ve boarded that’s it, you’re not getting anything refunded.

    I’m actually surprised this isn’t already standard practice, given how biased fare rules are against the passenger in any case.

  3. @Yosef_S This is because in Korea, after passing through the border control, they need to process tedious paperwork to come back into the country. Not like in the US where there is no border control for leaving the country.

    @Lucky Thanks for the update.

  4. @David and @Yosef_S, I wouldnt be surprised if they can’t word it that way because it would prevent them from removing or bumping passengers once they’ve boarded but haven’t left yet? It probably would be a difficult legal position for the airline to disembark a passenger if they have boarded and thus been deemed to have “flown” so to speak. Its probably just easier (and probably more lucrative) to impose a flat fee across all situations.

  5. @GuruJanitor: I did think that as well. But, if they bump/remove a passenger that’s different than the passenger removing themselves.

    I’m sure you’re right about this wording being more profitable for them though…

    Although, if they consider once you’ve boarded as having flown do you then get the miles? It’ll take a better legal brain than mine to work that one out!

  6. Try pulling this stunt in Singapore and off to jail you go!

    It is illegal to enter the departure area if you have no intention of leaving the country

  7. Related news: the infamous “nut rage” incident that raised so many issues and questions have a court verdict. Korean Air will only need to pay a paltry $18,000 USD to the humiliated and abused flight attendant and the court sided with the airline that it was acceptable on their part to demote him. Working for Korean companies: beware for if you stand up for your rights, the bosses basically can almost do anything to you since they like the elders are considered gods in Korea.

  8. TBH, it’s not gonna stop those fans to do this.
    I believe they’ll buy a ticket and just lose the money, if it means that they could try to kiss, shake hands, take photos, do some videos with their idols.
    They already spend a lot of money with this K-pop fever anyway. One ticket once in a year to be face to face with their idols it’s something that they’ll gladly do.
    (Believe me, I know some crazy people who could easily do that)

  9. Agree with @Leeza1. We’re talking about fans so obsessed that they were willing to hand over the money for a premium cabin refundable ticket. Even if they assumed they’d get it refunded, I don’t see ~$250 actually stopping crazy fans. Look up what these people pay for VIP tickets to concerts to get an idea of the situation.

    On the other hand, I don’t think it’d be too difficult for the airline to figure out who’s gone to departures. I can’t think of an east Asian country that doesn’t have exit immigration, and I don’t imagine long-hauls ex-EU/US/Aus are really the problem. Surely it isn’t unreasonable to say that once you’ve checked in to a flight, you incur a fee to back out?

  10. Lucky, I had lunch with an ANA/JAL/KE/OZ crew member today. The Seoul-Tokyo flights are generally more affordable for Kpop fans than Seoul-HKG/SIN/etc. So crew have to deal with an insane amount of shenanigans. That is, fans coming through the curtains, changing seats, etc. I have no idea why the Japanese airlines don’t start banning these passengers. What’s worse, is regular business passengers who are sharing the business cabin with the Kpop stars get extremely angry at all the commotion and take it out on the crew.

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